Nurturing growth in agriculture

Adaptability key to success
Despite challenges, Magdalena Jose, a young farmer, is steadfast in her determination to make a living for herself and her family and to contribute to Namibia's food security. 
Aurelia Afrikaner
In 2020, Magdalena Jose began her journey into agriculture, initially helping her grandmother with a 1-hectare garden.
However, it was in 2021, after attending training workshops, that she discovered a profound interest in crop farming.
Motivated by the desire to contribute to food security and alleviate the financial burden on her grandmother, she embarked on her own farming venture, Mana Magdalena's Garden, earlier this year, cultivating a 128×28 m plot in the Kavango East Region.

Nurture mindsets
Jose emphasises the resilience required in farming, regardless of the specific agricultural sector. Financial challenges, from purchasing quality seeds to covering labour and transportation costs, tested her commitment.
Yet, her passion for farming fuelled her determination to persist. One important lesson she learned was that imperfection is essential in farming. Unpredictable factors such as weather and unanticipated events make obtaining 100% success impossible.
"Ever since I recovered from depression this year, I took it upon myself to always be the best that I can be and to work so hard that I give my babies something to be proud of while creating a better future for them in the process as well," Jose said.
The realisation emphasised the importance of adaptability and a mindset centred on continuous progress.
Jose's farming career revealed the need for discipline and perseverance. She navigates the hardships of daily life, guaranteeing her children's well-being while devoting long hours to the farm while balancing motherhood and the demands of agriculture.

Breaking barriers
Technology and data are critical to her operations, and she emphasises the necessity of record-keeping for good farm management. Her technological knowledge has enabled her to market products on social media channels, showing the excellence of her output.
As a female farmer in a male-dominated industry, Jose takes pride in breaking barriers. Her positive experience in the agricultural community, particularly with supportive elders, encourages her to inspire other young women to join the field.
She says she is no stranger to gender-related biases, yet she maintains a strong-willed attitude in times when others doubt her capacity to carry out her duties.
"I most certainly encounter this; I haven't encountered it with my fellow farmers yet, but it's usually people looking to buy vegetables who are unbearable at times. When I'm asked what I do for a living, folks look at me funny. When I tell them I'm a self-employed farmer, the energy shifts immediately; I frequently get that 'Mmmh, are you really a farmer' look. Some simply laugh and say, 'There's no way you're a farmer at that age.'"

Future outlook
Marketing is an important part of her business approach. She promotes her wares through social media channels, personal encounters and word-of-mouth.
She emphasises the importance of marketing in establishing client trust and extending the customer base. Jose's future ambitions include expanding her farming area, diversifying her products and establishing her brand, Mana Magdalena's Garden.
Her ambition involves providing high-quality products at reasonable costs, combining value-added items and investigating delivery services.
Despite her scepticism about her job as a young female farmer, she remains resilient and composed, focusing on her goals and dreams. Her advice to other young people is to seize chances in agriculture, recognising the sector's ability to alleviate food security issues. She finds joy and fulfilment in the freedom, peace and calmness that farming provides. She is inspired by the determination and resilience of the street vendors who rely on her produce to maintain their families.
Jose's journey symbolises the fusion of passion, perseverance and innovation in agriculture. As she envisions a future where Namibian youth actively contribute to food security, she is an inspiration in the agricultural landscape.